How I Met Your Father: A Tale of Bunny Ears and Rollerblades

To My Four Misters and their Sister,

It will be a while until you all are old enough to care about the details of how Daddy and I ended up at the altar together.  Right now, you don’t know that he was my high school sweetheart, or that we had several years and a lot of ups and downs before our wedding day. You don’t know all of this because you are all so little still, and we are so very much focused on each and every one of you, each and every day.  But, before you sweeties blessed our lives, it was just me and Daddy.  And this is the story that started it all…

Saturday, October 24, 1998 was my 17th birthday. Aunt Mo was born exactly 366 days after I was born, meaning that the next day, Sunday, Monica turned 16. A couple of Monica’s good friends also were turning 16 that very same week, so someone had the genius idea for Monica and her friends to have one big Sweet 16 party to celebrate! And since everyone knows that big parties are to be held on Saturdays, and not Sundays, Monica and her friends partied at our house on my birthday.

So, that Saturday morning, I picked up one of my new best friends Jana to go take the ACT (a big test you take before college). As we were riding back from the test, and after hearing about my sister’s party plans, Jana invited me to come hang out with her at her house that evening. I couldn’t wait to spend my birthday with my friend.

I had already learned that Jana had five sisters and a brother – which was very different than my family of just me and Monica – but had no clue the flurry of activity that I would find once I got to her house that evening. Once I met some of her family, Jana and I went up to her room where we hung out and got to know each other more and just did what normal teenagers did – including her trying to teach me a Japanese song about a bumble bee (bun bun bun, hachi ga tobu…)

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While we were up in Jana’s room, at some point her brother Eric (Daddy) – wearing a white T-shirt, pink bunny ears, and roller blades – obnoxiously burst into the room. There was a quick introduction and then he bopped out of the room again. A little while later, Jana and I ventured downstairs and I caught another glimpse of Daddy who was then skating out in the street, still wearing the pink bunny ears! I had no clue what to make of him, but he was darn cute.

Dinnertime came and went (chicken and dumplings). Seconds into the dinner clean-up, someone took the kitchen sink sprayer and sprayed someone else! Then, of course, it escalated and turned into a full-blown water fight. Right there in the kitchen!  My immediate thought was “Oh my gosh, their mom is going to FLIP OUT when she see’s what they’re doing!” But your Grandma Karen walked into the kitchen in the middle of the fight, got sprayed with the sprayer, giggled and shook her head, and left the room as if nothing out of the ordinary had just happened. I quickly started to love Daddy’s family.

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The evening progressed, and Jana and I decided we wanted to rent a movie and make cheese dip. As we got ready to leave, I took note that Daddy wasn’t really doing anything and had no plans. I suggested to Jana that we invite him to come along (the idea of which I don’t think she was very keen on.) But, I thought it would be fun and I wanted to be nice. (Besides, he was super cute!) So she talked him into coming with us.

Before heading to Blockbuster Video (a store that was basically a library, but with movies instead of books) we had to go back to my house to get the Blockbuster card (like a library card). At my house, my sister and all of her friends seemed to be having a good time. I just wanted to run in and run out as quickly as I could. But my mom caught me and since the camera was out for the party, Nana stopped us to get a picture of me and my friend(s). Little did I know how amazing and wonderful it would be to have that picture, years later.  How many people can say that they have a picture of themselves with their spouse from the very day they met?!

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We went to Blockbuster, and then headed to Schnuck’s (a local grocery store) where we acted like idiots – trying on Halloween masks – and then headed back to Jana’s.

At some point, Daddy left the room and ended up calling Jana and I over; he had noticed that the moonlight caught the chandelier in the dining room just at the right angle for it to act as a prism and cast a little rainbow onto the dark dining room walls. Intrigued, he was crouched over in a corner, right where the rainbow was, letting it shine right into his eyes. (Little did any of us know that in the future he’d end up with a degree in photonics (the study of light), only to work on lasers for a living.) He then had Jana do the same. So she went and stood by her brother, who lined up her face with the light. And then he called me over. Seeing how close I would have to get to this cute boy frightened me a little, so I was hesitant, but I went.

I stood there, so close to Daddy, pretending to see what he was showing me. But, all I could think about was how close I was to this super cute boy and how I kind of wanted him to kiss me. Whether it was a 17-year-old girl’s raging hormones or our instant chemistry, I’ll never know. But right then, I felt something. And some time later, I learned that in that very moment, he had felt something, too.

So, in the weeks following, I started chatting with Daddy via instant messaging on AOL (America Online… our way to the internet back then) and at some point he admitted that he “like-liked” me; the feeling was mutual. I soon invited Jana over to my house for a sleepover, and as we chatted while trying to fall asleep like girls do at that age, I got brave and asked my best friend if it would be alright if I went out with her brother. She seemed to be taken off guard and answered me with, “Um…OK…..It’s kind of weird. But, I guess.”

We then went out on our first date exactly a month after we met, where we went and saw the movie “The Waterboy.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

To read more from our “How I Met Your Father” series, click here.

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